Friday 28 September 2018

The Path to Carcosa - The Pallid Mask

The Catacombs! I loved this scenario the first time I played it and our group just managed to survive by the skin our teeth. Now to return with our tooled up and remarkably undamaged group.

We had the ideal start with the secret passageway in play and an easy entrance to the tombs but then hit repeated road blocks. My start was decent (Shrivelling and an Athame being the highlights) though for once Leo did not show up to chaperone Jenny. Perhaps he was scared of confined places? Or skulls.. 

Someone has way too much time on their hands

The decent cards did not help as the scenario then buggered up our catacombs draw with always  at least one slot taken up and gradually we had all the horror of two long corridors with neither connecting and when a final 'above' would have joined the two we instead got a 'below' so they didn't.  This created difficulties....

Another thing I like about the scenario is that it dangles lots of Victory Points in front of you but then gives you lots of ways to subvert and speed up (docents and location revealers). If you chase the vp then you may be at risk of failure but if you use the 'shortcuts' you could miss out on lots of vp. As it stood we relied a lot on the shortcuts to allow Agnes to progress along the northern corridor while Minh and Jenny became progressively more embroiled in the southern which ratcheted up the urgency nicely.

I think the group would have been screwed though especially when Minh and Jenny finally exposed two of the final five locations in the southern path and neither were the key ones. This meant that Agnes (who was standing next to the last unexposed three in the northern corridor) was certainly next to the key locations but sucked at getting clues so would have difficulty getting them all. With the Specter of Death sweeping merrily around as well it looked like it would be a long night. Though as a plus we did not have Haruko their to complicate matters further.

I suddenly wonder how all the King in Yellow monsters from the U.S stage show managed to get to Paris? Admittedly in this run through they all were burnt to death on Jenny 'I murder multiple people on a whim' Barnes but still. Wouldn't the ship staff (or air ship/hostess as I doubt mass plane travel was common) notice the tail or the 'eating other passengers instead of a steam cooked plasticy meal'..Enquiring minds need to know.

But things did manage to start to swing round. I managed to draw 'Drawn to the Flame'  which gained two clues then Jenny pulled a blinder. She used Elusive to move straight to my location and opened up a catacomb, which naturally enough was not the key location. I then luckily gained a third clue on a 2 shroud location (with two 'books') by drawing a zero (I had the actual lucky in hand so could have coped with worse) so we opened a second and it was the key chamber. At this point we had enough clues between us to advance the act immediately and not too fight the stranger. This led to us all needing to be in the blocked passageway which , by a process of elimination, must have been the final unrevealed location. The problem here was that Minh was stuck in the south wing with two docents,coprse dweller and two poltergeists close by (with two locations doing damage on leaving) and the Specter of Death  steadily approaching.

Jenny though was having none of it and used a second Elusive to shift back to the location next to Minh where she talked a poltergeist to death then moved next door to engage a docent. This allowed Minh to talk her own poltergeist to death. Another well organised turn had Minh killing another docent while jenny finished off the Corpse Dweller (nice concept of an average monster turning into something much nastier)

I am fairly sure that is an unusual look in Paris and quite probably elsewere. Except perhaps Chernobyl

While this was going up Agnes had drawn Rite of Seeking so was now merrily getting many clues and opening the blocked passage. She's a waitress, she probably has had to clear a lot of blocked passageways at the café.

Ahem. Anyway while Agnes kicked her heels in the end location now came the charge. Jenny moved to evade the Specter of Death and moved two locations on (thanks Leo) before Minh ran even further past. Another two turns and we completed.

I think I prefer the 'killing the stranger' ending to this one which was a bit weird but nothing like as exciting as running through the flooding catacombs. Be that as it may we had finished with no trauma (though we were all fairly beaten up) but only one expereince (from a Delve to Deep from Jenny) this is our worst ever experience total.

Play of the Game

Jenny must get it from her zippy movement skills in freeing up Minh otherwise this would have resulted in our first defeated investigator.

Honourable mentions include Agnes playing 'Ward of Protection' to stop an encounter card that would have changed the docent Minh was engaged  with into something much nastier (as the only humanoid present) and falso or both Minh and Jenny who early in the scenario when Agnes was in a narrow tunnel with the 'Pit Below' attached but could not move to the new catacombs location and we did not want to wast time moving backwards. Minh moved first and gained enough clues to open a southern location allowing Jenny to move in and parley with the docent allowing the location next to me to be displayed and thus the group to progress and not tread water.

Basically it was a solid team effort.

Monster of the Game

Though it did not do any damage 'Specter of Death' gets the award for being cool. Tough little SOB. If we were all organised and in the same location we might have been able to take it out but seperated there was no chance its clever ' do an attack if you fail an evade' ties really nicely into the fact that most of the time you are furiously running around the catacombs as opposed to fighting..

Friday 21 September 2018

The Path to Carcosa - A Phantom of Truth

Ah, Paris, after regaling each other with stories concerning scary caricature drawers outside Notre Dame we started. Jenny and Agnes seemed to have decent starts I had hard mulliganed for Shrivelling and managed to get one along with two time warps! And holy rosary. With the extra cash from having interviewed Jordan (why extra cash did we pickpocket him? Or was it that expensive 'leaving' the train station - perhaps those damned caricature artists 'charged' too much and we would otherwise have been caught in a tourist trap. Jenny meanwhile managed her fifth scenario on the trot with Leo in the opening hand. You have to hand it to him. He was paired with her in the book and is obviously smitten as he never leaves her side even when she frequently causes people to shoot at him and monsters to stab him. That's love. Or infatuation. Admittedly she does seem a catch if a little 'out there'.

Minh had a reasonable start with Doctor Milan turning up early (never did that for me when I was a seeker. ) But as a negative used her backpack and suddenly realised she must have forgot to pack it.

This was all needed though as early encounter draws were unpleasant. I picked up two damage from failing one test (and did the same later on so was dangerous close to passing out) and also drew a screeching byakhee. Since I was nicely tooled up and it had a victory point this made the group happy as I zapped it quickly. An early Arcane Initiate was put out that drew another Shrivelling and the clue search spell just before I accidentally pushed her into a different byakhee so the doom would not prevent the agenda from advancing , 'thanks for the spells, byeeeeeeee - splat'

Not the screeching but a Byakhee with great art all the same

We rapidly shifted past the first act which drew our version of the Organist. Since we were convinced of the evil we had the 'cannot damage does 3 mental trauma whilst hunting twice' version but this is not a major issue for a party of three. The key is to either have one person who is good at evading sitting close to him OR split the party into different locations and essentially play 'organist tennis' sending him backwards and forwards without getting to anyone. As it stood we went for the first option as Jenny was ready for him and had bought a Key of Ys out which she 'accidentally' charged by saying Hastur twice. Woops. This did allow how to lead him round like a small dog after a treat and the ever present loyal (slightly bleeding) Leo with his extra action really helped in this process. This allowed Minh to spend quality time trying to get rid of the King in Yellow (Jenny always finds Leo, Minh seems to have an affinity for her weakness) and Agnes could wander round zapping people's heads with shrivelling and even getting some clues.

This meant we rolled relatively easily to the end without getting too many  difficulties and finding the rather messy house of Monsieur Ingram.  Due to the zapping of both victory pointed Byakhees and the clearing for four VP locations we also pulled in a tidy 6 xp.

Monster of the Game

Anything that was not called 'the Organist' has its head shrivelled so the winner here is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Organist!

Since he cannot be hurt he is possibly the toughest creature we have had to face (at least this version) and I just like the concept.

Most innovative way to charge the Key of Ys (alternately the 'play of the game')

Nothing earth shattering and I was considering things as mundane as Agnes engaging a byakee from Jenny to allow her to go do 'stuff' or Minh hilariously spending four or so cards to get the 6 pips needed to remove her weakness - and then failing by one. But have decided Jenny gets this for the amusing method of charging the Key of Ys just be repeating Hastur several times. That's the last time though no matter how many times she may repeat this in the next few scenarios.

Hmm mentioning this dude when holding the infamous Key of Ys can prove riskily useful.

Thursday 6 September 2018

The Path to Carcosa - The Unspeakable Oath

Not the nicest asylum when we left it

A classic! This is such a great scenario. We started positively due to our great result in scenario two with each of us having an extra 'courage' card providing an extra two sanity and instantly did the Scooby Doo and split to rush through as many locations as possible. My starting hand was disappointing as for once I did not have anything combat worthy with no Shrivelling! I did have Rite of Seeking and Uncage the Soul which meant I could at least assist in finding clues though I felt strangely defenceless moving about.

Setup before we decided where to start

Clues did start piling in as I used the spell as my last action (to avoid the potential negatives and by turn two actually had the most clues (4) in the team. I was steadily clearing the mess hall mainly as I could grab two an action so would only have to discard one card.

Then disaster as my card draw for turn two was the ffing Silver Acolyte  - someone who (at that point) I had no (decent) chance at killing or evading and no cards in hand to help.  Luckily Minh was tooled up and she was able to move across, throw acid in its face killing it then grab a clue. Beyond the emotional bruising caused by needing to be rescued by the book worm (as opposed to 'assisted') and the fact that if I had not needed rescuing then we would have advanced the act by the end of turn two as it was we had eight clues at that point and the agenda moved instead.

Agnes felt unusually vulnerable. Plus she didn't have any pointy sticks like this lucky child.

Jenny merrily robbed the keys from the Ward Sister and disappeared down into the basement to start hunting for Daniel. Minh meanwhile was starting to collect an almost continuous range of Whispers and other terrors that were seriously impacting her ability to clear the garden and yard or do anything much at all.  I in the meantime I had cleared the Kitchen by the devious approach of using Delve to Deep to get the two clues then cancelling the encounter card with Ward of Protection before setting a fire there .I also drew  Aquinnah experienced who then cost me all of my money (and made me regret discarding an Emergency Cache in the mess hall earlier).

Dressed like that it is hard to see how anyone would forget her. 

This proved lucky as Jenny found Daniel in room two and he promptly turned into a monster (spoiler! I love the acts. If you read them you might think picking up the clasp of Black Onyx would be a good idea but if you did then you would not be playing this act. That is so devious and clever. Well played Mr Matt the designer) and was herself unusually badly tooled for action beyond her ever present Leo (who has turned up close to the start every scenario so far - he was her ally in her book though so its thematic as well as helpful).  Jenny then drew a fanatic in the encounter phase so had two nasty enemies she would have problems killing. Not an issue though as she evaded and left the location.

Daniel, pre 'wtf'

Next turn Agnes the non combat heroine stepped up to the plate with what may actually be an illegal play. She moved in and was promptly engaged by both (receiving and giving 1 damage to the fanatic). She then spent two to attach her Athame drawing two attacks of opportunity. I then added one horror for each to Acqunnnah who dealt both their damage to each other killing both. All I took was the one horror from Daniel. Which I put on my courage card as my ability would not hurt as they were both dead. It is potentially illegal as it might be that the attacks are not simultaneous but even had we not played it that way I could have used the fanatic to kill daniel then only needed one more to kill the fanatic and then had the Athame in play so I will claim the glory and shove the rules query under the carpet with a vigorous broom.

The situation just prior to finding Daniel (who was in the next cell to the one Jenny was currently in. The yellow paper indicates a shortcut on the location added by Minh.

We now had to get out and needed another two 'events' to assist. Jenny grabbed the third and Minh (just) managed the fourth. As the encounter deck merrily kept restocking her whispers/terrors she also drew her weakness and then drew another whisper that prevented using cards at all.

This was the situation when things changed and we had the joy of an auto monster being drawn from the encounter deck. Fortunately (as will be seen) it took 2/3rds of the encounter deck to even find one though the one found was an Asylum Gorger and was not only nasty but also landed on no-combat Agnes in the Basement. Sweet. Not having any chance of standing and fighting I moved back to the Wings being followed by the (fortunately for me) Attack of Opportunity less monster. At the end of the turn though I did have to suck up a 3/3 attack where I dropped one of each damage type on the now dead (defeated) Aquinnah meaning I was left with four of each and was looking a bit of a  risk. A bad encounter card could have sent me over the edge but I drew Filth and Decay so was able to drop 'Fight or Flight' in the next turn and evade it ,with an impressive seven evade, before using the handy shortcut to get me to the garden on time and resign. Minh also hopped out quickly but Jenny was after experience. She moved to the garden and used Delve to Deep to gain an XP.The encounter card was a minorish monster but had another XP should Jenny kill it. Which she did. 

Someday Jenny will be the earphones and 'Delve' will cause the cat to arrive

So we survived the asylum and gained 7 xp (I had not spent the three from the last scenario so would have 10 to play with!

Play of the Game

Agnes gets it for the Aquinnah in the face defence. Even when she is not tooled for combat she still rules

Agnes looked great in leather. Plus it was easy to wipe the blood off. 

Monster of the Game

Though Daniel gets honourable mention here for just being thematic and repulsive the more dangerous monster was the  Asylum Gorger  which almost succeeded in defeating valiant Agnes.

Monday 3 September 2018

The Path to Carcosa - Echoes of the Past

The ‘party’ was as bad as I said it would be. These people are seriously warped and have many eager denizens trying to assist them. We ended doing something you only read about concerning deep down south and those horrible KKK people. To put it another way we ensured none of the evil would be able to move out. We are moving to the Historical Society next. Minh should be most at home though Jenny and I will stick out like sore thumbs.  The odds of bumping into more low lives seem strangely high. Considering my work brought me into contact with plenty of other low lives I should be used to it.

Our intrepid trio now has to enter that infamous den of librarians – the Arkham Historical Society. This is a perfect control scenario. If the group can keep down the many cultists and deal with them quickly then the agenda deck is almost entirely under their control. In a group of three this would normally need at least two of the investigators to be capable of dealing with a cultist on their own with the last doing most of the clue work.

Setup and raring to go

As we started with three we had two Cultists already in play on the upper floor and if we left them to their own devices they would soak up enough doom to flip the agenda in 3 turns. I therefore took a faster start attaching a shrivelling and moving straight up to the 3rd floor lobby first turn. My compatriots started on their own gear and the clues. Our first encounter draw was fairly innocuous though an acolyte turned up generating a further auto-doom. This was not a worry as yet as Agnes was able to erase the first cultist with a  strength shrivelling. Meanwhile Minh (Minh!) moved up to the 1st floor to kill the Acolyte and failed.

Pressure carried on ramping up as I drew my weakness (a Silver Acolyte) and at the same time someone else drew a fanatic that went to the same location. I was now facing two enemies and would be highly unlikely to be able to shift across the 3rd floor to deal with the other cultist who was now on 4 doom (due to The Kings Edict turning up and buggering up all our calculations).

We could still handle things as long as nothing disastrous went wrong with the next turn.  On my encounter card I cancelled with…erm.. and took a horror which  allowed me to do 1 damage to the silver acolyte bringing him within one zap Shrivelling range, Agnes then zapped the two enemies in location reducing pressure and drew out her Spirit Athame (so one attack would be 9! Strength). Minh cleared her enemy and both Jenny wiped out a further acolyte.

The next encounter draw brought us very close to the edge as an extra doom was added meaning the 3rd floor Seeker would need to die this turn to keep the agenda from advancing and preventing the discard pile recycling. I though was two locations away and it is aloof so the best I could do would be to engage and deal a single damage in the enemy phase. This would not be good enough. Minh was 3 locations away (with pathfinder) so would have been able to get there but was restricted by her Shadows draw. We then pulled off a nice team ‘save’ that really shows how great the game can be. Minh was the driver though as she spent two actions clearing her whispers (I guess it must have been the ‘you can only move one location’ or something along those lines). She then used a fast action pathfinder to move to the 2nd floor lobby then her last action to move to the 3rd floor lobby. She then used another fast action to drop the shortcut on the 3rd floor lobby. This allowed me to move to the 3rd floor lobby, fast action use the shortcut to move to the other room and engage and zap the cultist with a 9 strength shrivelling. Those were all used but the cultist died and the agenda was saved.
That was the key risk point and we were in complete control after that. Jenny switchbladed a Hunter of the King to death and we rapidly pushed forward to clear the hidden library and win out. We did consider whether we should delay finishing to draw the big monster at the end to get a further two experience but it was late at this point so we called it a day. Minh and Agnes both collected three experience and Jenny pulled 5 (Charons Obal). Next up the wonderful asylum scenario.

Play of the Game

Has top go to Minh’s use of pathfinder and shortcut to allow the group to get where it otherwise could not and zap a doom laden cultist.

Minh takes the 'hollywood transfor' and removes her glasses and turns into a babe!

Monster of the Game

We never got to the huge nasties so this goes between the doom cultists who were both one shotted by Agnes and the Hunter of the King. It can go to the second as Agnes was out of spells at this point and in the end Minh chucked acid in its face causing it to disintegrate on the carpet. You don’t mess with the girls.